UWCL: Munich masterclass, but Hibs shine under Easter Road lights


Wednesday 5th October
UEFA Women’s Champions League: Round of 32, 1st Leg
Hibernian 0-6 Bayern Munich
Attendance – 2551
Easter Road Stadium

By Gregor Kerr

Wednesday night saw Hibernian Ladies welcome one of Europe’s true giants – Bayern Munich – to Easter Road on a freezing cold night in Leith. As much as the hosts tried desperately to salvage something from the game, they ultimately were outclassed by a far-superior Bayern side containing many Olympic gold medallists, and went off to standing ovation.

Hibs started the game well, passing the ball about confidently, despite the Bavarians not having their goal troubled to any extent.

Bayern however created the first real chance and they scored from it after five minutes. A great corner in from Melanie Behringer was headed into the ground and into the goal from Stefanie Van Der Gragt, leaving Jenna Fife helpless in goals.

The German side were clearly inspired with that goal, and began to pass the ball in the manner you would expect from a side of their reputation, leaving the Hibees chasing shadows at times.

They also looked like they would score an identical goal to their opening one, coming close on numerous occasions to heading home another corner in the first fifteen minutes.

Hibs had their first real dangerous attack of note on 17 minutes, when they broke down the wing through Rachel McLaughlin, who swung in a dangerous effort which was cleared away at the last minute, as was the second attempt.

Despite the pressure they were under, the hosts looked capable of mustering up a chance or two on the counter-attack, as they broke with speed and directness, particularly through Elizabeth Arnot, who always seemed to have a quick move to lose her marker.

Arnot created the first challenge for Korpela to keep out of the visitor’s net, as she spun her marker on the edge of the box and drilled in a shot, although it always looked like a comfortable save for the Finnish keeper.

Regardless of Hibs’ best efforts to harry down their opponents and grab a goal on the break, the German champions were absolutely ruthless, and they displayed that perfectly on 27 minutes. Nera Berge Holstad was put through on goal by a pinpoint pass, and didn’t hesitate in smashing the ball beyond Fife and into the roof of the net, doubling Bayern’s advantage.

The Munich side, who went out at the same stage last year, made the chances of that happening very slim with nearly half an hour on the clock. Verna Faisst, who was causing havoc on the wing, whipped in a good ball into the front post after a corner was cleared into her path, and Leupolz was waiting to head the ball into the net unchallenged. 3-0 up and cruising going into the interval, despite some resolute defending from the Hibernian backline.

Hibs came out into the second 45 looking determined to grab a quick goal and salvage some hope. Although their quick, incisive play was something to be admired, Bayern were absolutely solid at the back, and didn’t let a thing get past them.

Holstad had the first sight of goal in the second-half, but her shot hit the side-netting, despite looking like it had entered the goal.

Hibs were certainly doing well when you consider the gulf in experience and quality between the teams, but the Munich side added a fourth from Scottish attacker, and former Glasgow City player, Lisa Evans. She burst down the outside and drove straight to the byline, where she cut the ball back across the box allowing Miedema to round off the move from close range; a deadly attack finished off clinically.

Five minutes later the scoreline was added to again. A harsh lesson for Hibernian who struggled from corners all evening due to the German outfit’s height, once again where undone from a Behringer delivery. The ball in caused chaos in the box, and Leupolz was quickest to react by blasting in from inside the box to add a fifth.

Despite manager Chris Roberts making a double change by bringing on Racahel Small and Sarah Ewans, they were taught more lessons, conceding two penalties in the last 25 minutes. The first went in off the post from Behringer on the 67th minute. Whereas Rosler struck her penalty against the crossbar and out for the goal-kick.

Gemma Fife produced some fine saves in the closing stages to prevent Rosler and Gerhardt from adding the seventh goal of the night.

A convincing defeat, but nothing to be ashamed of for Hibernian Ladies, as they were simply outplayed by a superior, world-class side. The Hibs fans who had turned up in their numbers, a record attendance for Scottish Women’s Football in the modern area, gave Chris Robert’s side a standing ovation as they made their way off the pitch.

After the game, the Hibernian manager said: “I am proud. For me Bayern Munich are one of the top teams in the world, and it was tough. I am immensely proud of the players because they were up against World Cup winners, European Cup winners, and German players with over 100 caps. Whereas we are a young squad who are gaining experience all the time, and it was a huge learning curve tonight.”

He added: “That was an incredible crowd. What a feeling to have that many people coming to support the team.”

Roberts also spoke of his pride of his team tonight: “I was so proud of the fact the players’ didn’t let their heads down, and they kept working. You saw the physical difference between the teams and that was a challenge for us tonight, but I am proud of the girls.”